Sunday, April 22, 2007

A New Project

Ok -- so I've found myself a new little project to work on -- I'm going to invest a whole bunch of time -- and hopefully not a whole lot of money - on converting an old - at least 20 year old - beater bike into a single speed bike.

Jake and I were heading to the Orioles game the other night and had to swing by the local Royal Farms to grab some cash before we headed by Ritas for a pre-game italian ice. While at the Royal Frams I noticed a discarded bike in the parking lot. I took a quick look at the bike and noticed that it was in a bit of bad shape -- a taco-ed front wheel, some missing break pads and a general start of ill-health. That all in mind the frame looked in good shape and it had the prized asset for the prospective fixed/single speed convert - semi-horizontal drop-outs. Drop outs are where the rear wheel attaches to the frame of the bike and the by being semi-horizontal this allows the wheel to be moved fore and aft, allowing the tension of the chain to be adjusted so that the chain doesn't either bind up or get thrown. So I figured this was bike was basically trash, but I decided just in case, I'd let it sit in the lot through the game and see if anyone took it home. Fortunately it was still sitting in the lot abandoned at midnight when we got back to the game.

Maybe a better question than all the technical mumbo jumbo is why would anyone want a bike without gears, when clearly gears provide an unquestionable mechanical advantage. Well there a couple reasons. First I like to take things apart -- I'm almost as enthusiastic about putting things back together (NOEL, I promise that the bike parts will not lay around in a pile of parts in the garage taking up space - it will become a bike.) Mechanical tinkering is challenging and exciting and if I don't screw it up very satisfying. Also single speed bikes are cool. All the hip kids have one. Really -- I'm hip. Honestly. It'll also give me an opportunity to spin around town to run to the grocery store on my bike -- and since I am planning to invest a minimum in this bike, if it got stolen it wouldn't be the end of the world. And finally by eliminating the mechanical advantage of gears, it makes the ride harder - and will hopefully help me improve some aspects of my riding, particularly hill riding.

I've posted some photos in this post to give you an idea of what I am doing. I'll keep folks up to speed on how the conversion goes.

1 comment:

  1. Tom,
    turning that old bike into a fixie sounds like great project. If you get a hub that doesn't have a freewheel, you are in for a real treat. Akin to a track bike, the pedals go around as long as the rear wheel is moving. Riding this way will improve your connection and power application throughout the entire pedal stroke. Also, because of the fixed connection between the wheel and the pedals you can build up incredible momentum and speed. I spent $400 on a track bike and I have as much fun on in as I do on my much more expensive road bike. Of course, I'm in flat FL; the hills in MD will make riding a fixed gear a lot more challenging. Best of luck.